Que. Kindly let us know about your childhood and upbringing.
Ans: I was born in a small village called Deuri Goan approximately two and a half kms. from Tezpur Town. As a result, I found the atmosphere of both the town and the village lives. Our childhood was a golden period. We used to go to the jungle to play hide and seek and came back tired and lied down on my grandma’s lap and dozed listening to her stories. Our childhood was diverse and rich with experience. The stories of childhood burglary that we now read in the novels were realities in our childhood days.
I was born in an educated family and did my initial studies under the guidance of my parents. We had a legacy of teaching professionals in our family. My grandfather Manik Bora was a popular school teacher and a Gayan of Namghar. My father and my uncle were also teachers. The name of my village has a history associated with it. A large number of people from our village were involved as deouri bilaniyas of the historic Bhairavi temple located in Tezpur. Even today the main priest of Bhairavi temple is from our village. From Deori Bilania, the name of our village became Deouri Gaon because of this lineage.
Que. You are not basically a creative writer. What prompted you to become a creative writer?
Ans: I have been finding peace of mind through creative writing even though journalism is my life and livelihood. My first book was on travelling ‘Thamesor Parat Luitor Sur’. People appreciated the book much. Earlier I wrote the story of the popular full length Assamese film ‘Surjasta’. I then wrote ‘Sesh Pristha’, which is a result of the belief in me of my friends and well-wishers.
Generally away from the techniques of writing novels like ‘Sesh Pristha’, ‘Chiyahir Rong’, I have written ‘Bikul’ and ‘Janani’. In this case, Dr. Lakshminandan Bora wrote that literature does not change if it is within certain techniques. To create a new trend in literature, it should deviate from the traditional ideas and genres.
Experiments should be done. He brought this reference to the paper by admiring the books ‘Sesh Pristha’ and ‘Chiyahir Rong’. If katha kabita, mitabhash can be created in the Assamese literature, my novel can be a new genre of literature written independently, different from the traditional ideas. I have written the novels in my way.
Apart from this, two travel stories and three political books published are the results of my social responsibilities.
Some stories and events in the society hurt me constantly. The tranquillity that the mind gets after weaving these incidents into a novel is unparalleled. Recent novels are lost from the political history of Assam. I have tried to bring this in my novels.
As my well-wishers, especially my social media followers and the young people of Assam, are now interested in my books. The young people and college going students are curious to know what I am writing. This inspires me to write new books. For these young people, I have written ‘Bikul’, ‘Janani’, ‘Chiyahir Rong’, and ‘Sesh Pristha’.
I have also written a political book titled ‘Moi Asomiya Hoiyei Thakim’ with an Assamese mind. The new generation of Assamese literature and the young generation associated with the Assamese life are the first and main source of my inspiration.
Que. You have written about yellow journalism. Please shed light on this aspect.
Ans: Dr. Hiren Gohain once wrote a sentence while presenting me the book ‘Asom Andolan Pratisruti aru Falasruti’ edited by him. The sentence was, “A writer should never deviate from this sentence, ‘Be careful about that’”. Some wise men have said that journalists should play the role of opponents in a democracy. What role has a soldier-journalist like us been playing in this regard? The people of Assam have seen.
Recently, there has been much buzz about yellow journalism across the country. One of my novels, ‘Chiyahir Rong’, challenging yellow journalism, has already been published. This novel has also been filmed by Pradyut Kumar Deka. I was arrested and imprisoned in 1997 for taking up the pen against corruption and certain government works. I have passed from this experience.
In ‘Chiyahir Rong’, I tried to keep the time of Assam’s media world tied up. This novel is a glimpse of my life as a journalist and founder editor of the ‘Dainik Asom’, late Kirtinath Hazarika. I have also raised a huge reaction among the younger generation as a result of Indian journalism. There is no dearth of journalists who have given their life in India.
Que. You have written about the period of Assam agitation in Bikul. Kindly tell us about the genesis of this novel.
Ans: The Assam movement is a turning point in the social and political life of Assam. This movement was discussed all over the world. The movement which saw 855 martyrs and thousands of Assamese turned around for life. This movement changed the political landscape of Assam. Signing of Assam Accord, illegal foreign expulsion slipped into power and the emergence of a new regional party AGP failed miserably to meet the expectation of the people. There was no change in the lives of the Assamese people. Instead, there were new challenges introduced. The result of the Assam Movement became a huge failure. Illegal foreign nationals have not been expelled. The death of 855 people, the loss of an academic year and the cheating of the Assamese people can be termed accidents in the Assam history.
Many books have been published about the Assam movement. I had not read any such book or novel before writing ‘Bikul’. My mother Mrs. Binu Bora was an active activist of the Assam movement. We were students in the lower class in a high school then. My mother used to get up early in the morning to join the agitation, got beaten by the police, and imprisoned. Every person in my village was involved in the Assam Movement.
On the day of the signing of the Assam Accord, the village people took out a procession on the streets of the village by playing dhol-khol, barkanh. It can only be felt how much the people of Assam enjoyed!
From 1979 to 2019, from the day the Assam Movement started, to the anti-CAB movement, the leadership has cheated even though they were involved in the larger interests of the nation in every mass struggle.
The story of the struggle for the rights of the Assamese people and how the Assamese people were cheated are the main seeds of ‘Bikul‘.
Que. Your latest novel ‘Janani’ has also become a successful novel. How did you formulate the seed of this novel?
Ans: ‘Janani’ is a social and political novel. ‘Janani’ started from where ‘Bikul‘ ended. The Assamese people protested against the attempt to impose a special law that is the basis of ‘Janani’. Critics have commented that the idea that comes to our mind when we say a novel is broken, ‘Bikul‘ and ‘Janani’ are the examples of this. However, new versions of these novels would have been published but because of the pandemic, they have got delayed.
Contrary to the struggle to protect the rights of the Assamese people and the supreme sacrifice, the character of some Assamese politicians forced me to write ‘Janani’. The novel is reported to be the most popular among the younger generation of Assam. This is an inspiration and blessing for me. This made me interested in writing another novel.
Que. Do you think that journalists are more socially attuned?
Ans: I have spent 29 years in active journalism. Journalists are called the most ardent guard of society. As a journalist, I associate myself with people more. I include the happiness and sorrow of the people in my reporting. Because the journalists cannot be separated from the society. They are also citizens. The collective movement of the Assamese people will be my only goal and purpose of journalism. Society wants journalists as partners in the society.
About the author
Jitumoni Bora has been an accomplished writer, editor and journalist for the last 29 years. At present, he is associated with the digital section of Prag channel as its editor. His political comments are always judicious and his creative writing is subtle, nuanced and popular. To sum up it is enough to say that he is a reputed media person and creative writer.
About the interviewer
Subhajit Bhadra is an assistant professor in the Department of English at Bongaigaon College, Bongaigaon, Assam. He is a freelance writer, poet, critic and translator. He has published a number of books including The Masked Protagonist In Jewish American Fiction, History of English Literature, The Man Who Stole The Crown, The Rising Sun, a book of poems in Bengali and a translated work titled Selected Stories of Arun Goswami.